New Callsign Format for Australian Foundation Licencees

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by VK3QB, Oct 27, 2019.

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  1. VK3QB

    VK3QB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Let VK amateurs decide on the new callsign format, RASA says.

    The two Australian amateur radio peak representative bodies, the Radio Amateur Society of Australia (RASA) and the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) have launched a joint survey on options for a new callsign format for Foundation Class amateurs.

    “Foundation Licencees now have access to digital modes – a great boost for the hobby. However, the four letter callsign suffixes they use are incompatible with some very popular digital modes, including FT8, APRS and DSTAR.” RASA President Glenn VK4DU said

    “The best solution is to reassign FLs a three letter suffix.”

    “WIA President Greg Kelly and I have discussed the issue with the regulator and we agreed to conduct a survey to seek the views of Australian amateurs on one of two preferred solutions” Glenn said.

    “The results of the survey will form the basis of our submission to ACMA.”

    “RASA has no preferred option – we will be guided by the views of Australian amateurs” Glenn said.
    W6SAE, N1GKE, W7GST and 2 others like this.
  2. W6IR

    W6IR Ham Member QRZ Page

    And what are the options?
  3. VK3VM

    VK3VM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Here is a repost of the email supported by and posted through Amateur Radio (Victoria) that should explain all:


    Dear Stephen VK3SIR

    ARV is conducting a joint survey with the WIA, ALARA, ARNSW and RASA to gauge members opinions on the best way to address the issue of changing the four letter foundation callsigns.

    Following is a summary of the pro's and con's for both options that are being canvassed.


    Foundation licencees (FL) have recently been granted digital modes by ACMA. However, the four-letter suffix callsigns used by FL are not fully compatible with many popular radio data programs, such as FT8, DSTAR and APRS.

    Clearly, FL need a callsign with a three-letter suffix. RASA and the WIA have discussed the issue with ACMA, and there are two options available. These are presented below, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each.

    Note that the VKnQxx block can not be used - at best it would provide a short-term solution only as there are insufficient callsigns available in the block for the populous states (Maximum 676=26*26).

    Note: Both options described would use the existing callsign process to get a 3 character callsign and no new 4 character callsigns would be issued. Option 2 sunsets existing four-character callsigns after a period or 1 or 2 years.

    Option 1 - Remove the connection between callsign suffix and licence class for 3 letter callsigns

    Removing the connection between callsign suffix and licence class would mean that any licencee could apply for any 3 letter suffix. Standard licences would also benefit from this option. 2 letter suffix callsigns would continue to be reserved for Advanced licencees.


    * Most efficient use of the existing callsign block
    * Allows for significant growth
    * Callsign for life
    * Licence class no longer linked to callsign - which has been linked to on-air discrimination
    * Retains option to use a new prefix for all licence classes


    * Licence class can not be determined by callsign on air. ACMA online database must be consulted.

    Option 2 - Allocate a new prefix, such as VJ

    The block would be used for FL only, and would be limited to 3 letter suffixes. The normal State/Territory numeric designator would apply. Once the block is operational, no further VK four letter suffix callsigns would be issued. All existing FL callsigns would eventually be converted to the new block after a one or two year sunset period.


    * Allows for significant growth.
    * New prefix stimulates activity, particularly on HF. Foundation stations would become sought after by DX stations.
    * Existing FL who wish to convert their four letter callsigns to the new block would drop the F prefix – i.e. VK2FABC becomes VJ2ABC, for example


    * Callsigns in the new block could not use the AX prefix to commemorate days of national significance, such as Australia and ANZAC Day, because of clashes with existing VK callsigns.


    The results of the survey will form the basis of a joint submission to the ACMA. This approach is the fastest path to resolution of this issue.

    The ARV Council does not have the temerity to suggest to its members how to vote on this important issue, however Council will be supporting option one, the preferred WIA option.

    We need your views and we encourage all ARV members to participate in the survey.

    The survey will remain open for one month and can be found at:-

    The results of the survey will be emailed to ARV members.

    Ross VK3CE
    Secretary / Treasurer
    AR Victoria
  4. AJ6LB

    AJ6LB Ham Member QRZ Page

    To be honest, I think it is very myopic for any system to make assumptions about the length of call signs. D-Star, I'm looking at you. This creates Y2K type problems. One should assume call signs have an arbitrary length and design some other signaling in the protocol for commands.
    N1GKE likes this.
  5. VK7MC

    VK7MC Ham Member QRZ Page

    The foundation members need motivation to upgrade and a path from VJ to VK should be established if this option is accepted.
    VK4SP, G1ZRN and VK3QB like this.
  6. VK4HAT

    VK4HAT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think they have that motivation already. When 70% of the amateur cohort is advanced call and the remaining 30% is split rather evenly between foundation and standard, it says to me at least, people are transitioning. Most the people i know who were foundation have upgraded to at least standard and a few standards I know have upgraded to advanced.

    The problem is not people being sufficiently motivated to upgrade, the issue is a small percentage of advanced calls who think people need to upgrade in a speedier fashion. Other than maybe 5 people who are going to be fcall for life, every other foundation I have spoken to is planning to upgrade within the next 12 months to 5 years. Within the first week of getting an fcall i had people telling me to hurry up and upgrade. 4 years later i did, and now as a standard i have people telling me to hurry up and upgrade. And in another 5 years I might actually get around to doing that. People need to remember, everyone's timeline is different.

    If this is a hobby for life, what is the hurry? And as someone who still holds an Fcall, i dont know what all the fuss is about. Fcall did not hinder me in working DX, I have worked fcalls on FT8 and on DMR and seen them on APRS, they can for the most part do just about everything other than maybe Dstar. So one talkie walkie mode out of all the digital modes is broken and wont accept a 4 letter suffix. This seems to me like a solution looking for a problem. And the people who are going to be effected, the fcalls are hardly going to be consulted on this. Its going to be their betters telling them we know whats best for you. My vote as someone who still holds an fcall is leave things as they are.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2019
  7. VK2JI

    VK2JI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Post removed.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2019
  8. VK3PYE

    VK3PYE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Why ?
  9. VK4HAT

    VK4HAT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Because everyone has to be advanced. Didnt you get the memo. Lol
    VK5FUSE likes this.
  10. VK3VM

    VK3VM XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hmmm ... No everyone does NOT have to be Advanced ... Didn't you get the VE memo? OOps ... looks like you did !

    This is negative ... Move on. F / Technicians / Class 4 calls are the best thing since sliced toast for AR. Then having the incentive available and promoting the ability, if one wants to better one's own skills, can also be considered to be the Jam/Jelly on the toast !

    Mind you our ACMA has made it VERY CLEAR in The Spectrum Review that having stepped licensing schemes creates considerable "administrative burden". We only have the stepped scheme because we as Amateurs wanted it and asked for it, according to The ACMA ... The NZ model is by far preferred within The ACMA.... and CB well... just under a class licence with virtually no regulation ... well ... what can I say !!!!
    VK4FGZA and W7GST like this.

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